Meet writer and designer Diane Gilleland who's never met a craft she doesn't love.
Want to get involved with crafting, but not sure where to start? We chatted with Diane about her blog Craftypod (http://www.craftypod.com) and how anyone can unleash their inner crafting creativity.
CW: Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started with creative crafting?
Diane: My mom is very crafty, and got me started as a little girl with embroidery, needlepoint, and sewing. Whatever I was interested in growing up, she made sure I had the materials and the space to explore it.
CW: When and why did you start blogging and how has your blog evolved? Have there been any memorable surprises, challenges or rewards it’s brought you?
Diane: My blog started in 2005 as a very personal record of my creative life, and it’s evolved into more of a resource for other crafters. The act of focusing my thoughts, writing them down, and taking photographs to illustrate them has helped me gain so much more confidence in my ideas. And the act of constantly designing projects for the blog has honed my design skills to a point where I can work at it professionally. Blogging is like yoga or meditation; if you show up and do it week in and week out, you’ll see amazing transformations.
CW: What kind of relationship do you have with your readers, and what posts, subjects or projects have proven most popular with them?
Diane: Back in the early days of blogging, relationships with readers were much more possible, because reading was an active sport. Many more people engaged in comment discussion, and more people read blog posts in detail. But social media has changed that so much. We’re all so inundated now, and people are much more inclined to scan, pin and move on to the next thing. So it’s harder now to feel that sense of relationship. Whenever I get a real, thoughtful comment from someone now, an opportunity to have an actual dialogue, I treasure it.
I’ve been lucky enough to have a bunch of blog projects be well received over the years, but here are some recent ones that people seemed to like: Happy Hexie Pins, Plastic Canvas “Straw” Placemats, and Choose Your Own Design Adventure Ornaments.
CW: We’ve heard you never met a craft you didn’t like. What’s the most unusual one you’ve tried so far?
Diane: Probably the weirdest was making clay from dryer lint. It seemed like such a great idea, turning this waste material into a craft material. Sadly, the reality was a blob of greenish goo, and a funky smell that lingered in my kitchen for hours.
CW: Many of your crafts are eco-friendly. Why is that important to you?
Diane: Well, it’s not the eco-friendliness I focus on. It’s the idea that creative projects are all around us, and we don’t necessarily need a lot of expensive supplies to get into making. Sure, it’s fun to go to the craft store, but crafting is about the mental state we get into while making—not the accoutrements!
CW: Tell us about the community crafting group you started in your hometown.
Diane: Back in 2003, I ran across an article in a magazine about the Church of Craft. It started in San Francisco and New York, and it was a group dedicated to the idea that creating is a kind of spiritual act, and that making things in company with other people is very healing.
So I started a Church of Craft chapter in Portland. It was held monthly at a local coffee shop, and open to the public. People were welcome to bring any craft they wanted to work on. I met so many wonderful people, and had a lot of great conversations over craft. I stopped organizing these meetings several years ago, but you can still find Church of Craft chapters in many cities.
CW: If you were stranded on a desert island with a tiny craft bag what would you want it to contain?
Diane: I suppose I’d stock that bag with several skeins of wool yarn and a crochet hook. So I could at least crochet things, frog them back to yarn, and then crochet other things. I could also exercise the option to crochet some giant letters to spell H-E-L-P on the beach!
CW: How do you suggest someone who’s “all thumbs” find a craft they might enjoy?
Diane: I think it’s deep in our human nature to make – whether that’s a pot of soup, a knitted sweater, a crystal radio, or a credenza. I think that when someone identifies him or herself as not being good at creating, it’s just that they’ve heard too much criticism and lost the will to be exploratory. So my advice is simply this: try lots of different crafts. Let go of the idea that you need to do them “right,” and focus instead on how you feel while you’re doing them.
Crafting is about the conversation that takes place between your hands, your mind, and your materials. Anything that happens in that space is good—either you create a bit of beauty, or you learn something valuable that will help you create beauty next time.
CW: What key piece of advice would you give to someone who’d like to make their art or craft into a business?
Diane: Realize that you’ll have to put in sustained effort, possibly over a period of years, to build a viable business. Realize that turning crafting into your livelihood tends to change your relationship to it, and you need to find some new hobbies to relax with. Realize that to stay afloat, you’ll have to stay on your toes and evolve your business constantly. All that said, I wouldn’t trade my livelihood for anything—it’s a million times more satisfying than any day job I’ve ever had.
Check out Diane’s craft tutorials for a Needlepoint Jewelry Pendant and Quilted Jewelry Pendant. For more information about Diane and her blog, visit her at Craftypod. Craft photography by Diane Gilleleand.